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Letter to the Editor: Thank you for the great work you are doing

Dear Community Reporter,

I am writing to this fine community newspaper of ours to thank you for the great work you are doing to inform our corner of the city of the many and varied points of interest: places to go and enjoy activities, businesses offering services to aid people of all ages in a variety of needs, articles and columns for children and adolescents written by them, stories of people’s lives and especially writings that speak to the importance of creating a community of equality, of inclusion, of equal rights for everybody. I especially want to point out and thank Tim Johnson whose column on creating a non-racist society has been and continues to be so thoughtfully written, and done so without judging, without finger-pointing, usually starting with a personal story with which we could all identify and then elucidating on the theme to assist us in seeing the underlying message, the bigger picture, the lesson to be learned.

The truth is, everybody does not, in fact, have equal access to all these services, to equal education, to housing, to health, employment, to justice in our criminal justice system. Listening to intelligent and informative programs on MPR and NPR- public radio stations- one can learn about the numbers regularly of Black women with a three times that of White women mortality rate in natal care and death of their infant, or the incarceration rate of Black, Indigenous and Latino men in jail and prison (90% of inmate populations, many for minor offenses, like they couldn’t post bond), or the intergenerational trauma of Indigenous families because of Indian Residential Schools run by our government and some Christian churches for decades whose mission was “Kill the Indian, Save the child,” an effort to totally erase their culture and force assimilation: in other words, make them White.

These are facts of history, our American history, a history some states want to wipe out, erase, so that children don’t learn it, don’t learn the truth of how our nation was built and whose forced labor built it, of what our nation has done to BIPOC peoples, that is, those who aren’t White. We want to believe America is a land of opportunity, of freedom, of equality, of all that is good and righteous but that is an American Myth. It is not the truth. That truth was not taught to us in school, in our growing up because ‘the winner writes the history’ and that history was brutal and cruel, to say the least. It’s a lot more convenient to avoid teaching our children those truths because it makes us look bad. And if we can’t accept that, we won’t move forward. We’ve got to know and accept the truth of our history to move forward.

Some nations, like South Africa and Canada, have entered into a Reconciliation process to address the atrocities endured by their Indigenous peoples. In that process, everybody sits at the table, everybody speaks their truth, their experience, feelings, and everybody listens; this is the effort needed to find Common Ground and move forward, to right the wrongs. This is the kind of effort we need to make in our country in order to move forward. I hope we in the United States can find and create a process of “conciliation,” with Black, Indigenous, Asian, and other BIPOC peoples — everybody sitting at the table, speaking their truth, their experience and listening, listening, listening . . . .

Larry Dittberner, West End Resident

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